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Originally published Friday, September 2, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Rising concern

This phenomenon requires foresight as a matter of course

Editor, The Times:

As news of Hurricane Katrina's fallout grows more grim each day, I have to wonder how much of this terrible tragedy can be blamed on Mother Nature alone. Policymakers had ample knowledge that such a disaster could, and probably would, occur ["Chaos beyond belief in an American city," Times page one, Sept. 1].

Given that hurricanes are a regular occurrence on the Gulf Coast, shouldn't there have been planning in place to lessen the impact of this storm? Would this violent hurricane season be milder had the U.S., in 2001, not pulled out of the Kyoto treaty to reduce global warming?

What if George Bush and Congress hadn't slashed funding for Louisiana's hurricane readiness, for securing the levees, and for strengthening the ecological buffer zones between the Gulf and New Orleans?

Has the costly war in Iraq, coupled with massive federal tax cuts, diminished our ability to secure the homeland against very real threats like hurricanes?

It is critical that these questions get asked now, to prevent another natural or environmental disaster of this scale in our future.

— Lauren Braden, Seattle

Your power is restoring

As the nation watches in horror the devastation that has occurred in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, Washingtonians should take our own lessons. New Orleans has long been advertised as a city that is especially vulnerable to flooding and hurricane impacts. The infrastructure that supports that city was built over centuries and, as recent events demonstrate, could not survive a less-than-worst-case-scenario storm.

Here in Washington, we have our own emergency-planning and infrastructure needs. As the 2001 Nisqually earthquake demonstrated, some Washington roads, seawalls and infrastructure are not designed to withstand future natural disasters. Though planning is under way to replace many of the most vulnerable structures, such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Highway 520 floating bridge, these structures cannot be replaced without funding.

As we head to the voting booth this fall, Hurricane Katrina's effects should help us recognize the importance of paying for prevention now, rather than waiting for a disaster to strike before we are forced to recognize how fragile the infrastructure that supports our lives and state economy has become.

— Philip Bloch, Bellevue

The raft of gold

Erik Devericks' editorial cartoon, "Fat Chance News" [Aug. 31] bolsters the American delusion that we are generous, the rest of the world is inconsiderate. Fat chance, it implies, that anyone will help the U.S. after the Gulf Coast hurricane tragedy.

The facts are told elsewhere in "U.S. boosts aid to global poor but ranked low" [News, Aug. 31]:

1) We rank 12th of 21 rich nations in aid to the poor nations. Denmark, the most generous nation, gives $.90 per person per day through government and personal gifts, the U.S., $.21. The stingy response by the Bush administration to tsunami relief only reflects the broader pattern of American focus on spreading military bases abroad, rather than offering aid to suffering, starving people.

2) America is the leading exporter of weapons, not aid, to the world — to Egypt, China and others. Who knows how many civilians have been killed by soldiers wielding American weapons? In fact, who knows how many Americans have been killed by American weapons in countries we have invaded?

It would be like the Roman Empire expecting the "barbarians" to send aid if a volcano erupted near Rome.

— Robert Stevenson, Seattle

Cut ourselves adrift

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, letter writer Lee Fowble's first thought is to whine that our allies abroad won't fork over enough aid ["Circling overhead," Northwest Voices, Sept. 1].

Which allies would those be, exactly? The ones we said were "against us" because they didn't rush to sign up for our Iraq war scheme? The ones we renamed "freedom fries" to insult? The ones whose carefully negotiated treaty to reduce global warming (and prevent hurricanes, by the way) we even now turn up our noses at?

Funny how folks you treat contemptuously tend to take their time coming when you decide you need them after all.

— Beverly Marshall Saling, Seattle

Omitting pretty

Do you ever wonder why people in other countries perceive us Americans as arrogant and often use the metaphor of the Ugly American? You don't have to look any further than Erik Devericks' Aug. 31 editorial cartoon, "Fat Chance News," and Lee Fowble's letter to the editor of the next day.

I saw the cartoon on Wednesday morning just after I had read Internet news from Germany, in which a spokesperson for the German Red Cross was quoted as saying they were at the ready with supplies and personnel for field hospitals and water-purification plants. They were just waiting for word from their U.S. counterparts where they wanted them to go (which needs to be coordinated in an effort like this — you don't want help to be wasted by ending up at the wrong place).

And during the 10 p.m. news on KONG-TV, it was reported that at least 12 countries had offered international help to the U.S.

So, Mr. Devericks, it seems pigs do fly; and Mr. Fowble, no need to worry about grafting your hand to your arm.

By the way, my check is in the mail; I hope so are yours.

— Dieter Zube, Redmond

The tipping point

I find it contemptible, though hardly surprising, that the hate-Bush crowd would flock to blame the president for this hurricane or any other tragedy ["Tempest tossed," Northwest Voices, Sept. 1].

Wake up and smell the espresso, Seattle. No president can cause, or prevent, a hurricane. Your irrational need to place blame on President Bush for a natural disaster does not reflect poorly on his performance in office, but does illustrate the irrational hatred that far too many on the left have for anyone who dares to disagree with their orthodoxy.

At least try not to be consumed by your own venom.

— Tom Kerr, Milton

The rude sea

From your letters to the editor of Thursday, I'm guessing all your writers agree that George Bush was responsible for Katrina and its devastation.

Were you expecting him to stand in front of the seas and part them?

— Charles Sanborn, Mercer island

Effacing grace

While Rome burned, Nero fiddled. While New Orleans drowns, what is George Bush doing?

We are now seeing the true face of compassionate conservatism.

— Zoltan Abraham, Renton

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